NTSB Video Shows Reno Crash Sequence


The NTSB is meeting today (Aug. 26, 2012) to determine a probable cause of the crash at the National Championship Air Races in Reno on Sept. 16, 2011, that resulted in the deaths of 10 people and injured more than 60. Jimmy Leeward’s highly modified P-51, the Galloping Ghost, went out of control near the home stretch pylon and crashed a few feet from a premium ramp seating area. Leeward and eight others died at the scene and a ninth spectator died later in hospital. The role of the departure of the left trim tab has been a major factor in the investigation and video released by the NTSB last week shows the aircraft was clearly out of control before the part separated from the aircraft, although that doesn’t mean it wasn’t damaged or disabled before it fell.

The video shows the aircraft aggressively bank 93 degrees before leveling and pitching up hard enough to throw the tailwheel out of its housing. As the aircraft climbs and rolls, the trim tab can be seen falling away. The NTSB has already issued recommendations on improving the safety of the races, which will be held this year starting Sept. 12.